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Ohio Primary Law Legal Research Guide: How-to find and update a case

Guide based on Cleveland-Marshall's Ohio Primary Law Research Guide. Covers Ohio cases, statutes, legislative history, regulations, and administrative decisions.

How do I find a case in Ohio?

If you are looking for cases pertaining specifically to Ohio, there are three basic search strategies:

1. Search by citation

2. Search by case name

3. Search by keyword/subject

See sections below for more information on each of these types of searches.

1. Do you have a citation? If not, go to box 2.

If you have a legal citation, you will need to correctly identify each component to determine which reporter published your case.  Each citation is typically broken down into three basic components: the volume number; the reporter series; the page number. 

For example:         89 Ohio St. 93

89→          Volume # 89

Ohio St.→ Ohio State Reports

93→          Page # 93

Once you have deciphered the citation, you can use various resources to locate your case.

  • HCLL Print Collection 
  • Google Scholar
  • Public Library of Law
  • Ohio Supreme Court website (for SCO and Ohio appellate cases) - enter citation into "full text" box, use quotations around it, select the court and year from the drop down menus above. Click submit.
  • Fee Databases 
    • Some fee databases available to libary subscribers include:  LexisNexis, Westlaw, FastCase

-or-

To search for Ohio Supreme Court and appellate decisions on the Ohio Supreme Court's website by citation you can use the WebCite number. This is a new universal citation method adopted by many states to locate cases online. 

For example:        2014-Ohio-3365

2014--> Year

Ohio --> State

3365 --> Unique number

2. Do you have a case name? If not, go to box 3.

If you have a case name (names of parties involved), there are several sources available that will enable you to locate the case.

  • Fee services, such as Lexis and Westlaw,  allow you to search for cases by party name. 
  • Court websites may have a name-searchable feature as well. The Supreme Court of Ohio's site does not do a party name search, but includes a search of the full text. if you search for the party name in the "full text" box you should be able to access the opinion for your case.
  • If you do not have access to online resources, you can use various print resources at the Law Library.
    • Ohio Official Reports,
    • Ohio Appellate Reports, and
    • Ohio Jurisprudence  all provide a TABLE OF CASES section at the end of each set.  The TABLE OF CASES lists alphabetically the title of each case, by both Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s names and the volume and page of the reporter in which each is published. Once you have that info, you can plug it into a legal database, google, or look it up in the books. 

3. How to Find a Case on a Certain Subject

  • Try a keyword search on LexisLexisNexis AcademicCasemaker , Westlaw.,  Google Scholar or other database.
  • If you are researching a statute or court rule, you can consult an annotated copy of the statutes or rules. You can also do a search on Lexis, Westlaw, etc. for the code section number or rule number.

Updating a Case

Shepard's (Lexis) , Keycite (Westlaw) and B-cite(Bloomberg) list subsequent cases that cited the case in question, and whether the subsequent case overruled or followed the case in question. In order to make sure a case is "still good law", don't stop at Shepard's or Keycite or Bcite.

It is possible the case is no longer good law, but no subsequent case ever cited that case as overruled. Looking at the Table of Authorities in Lexis or Westlaw will help determine whether the underpinning cases cited in a decision have been overturned.  Table of Authorities is included in Bcite results. In LexisAdvance, Legal Issue Trail lists cases cited in that legal passage, and gives Shepards signals for those cases, providing the same functionality as table of authorities.

Thorough research of a question through electronic searches and/or secondary sources should reveal any changes in the law.

Additionally, you should also check the statutes to see if the case was overruled by statute, although Shepards and Keycite often reflect when a case is overruled by statute.

Track Pending Ohio Supreme Court Cases